by Lester Brathwaite on
The FashionIndie FilmInstitue (FIFI) gives the close-up on fashionable films from a bygone era. This week we take a look at a low-budget horror classic inspired by fashion sketches, 1942′s Cat People.
French actress Simone Simon stars as Serbian-born fashion illustrator Irena Dubrovna, plagued by fears that she’s the descendant of an ancient race of people that turn into cats whenever hot under the collar.
The film was directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton for under $150,000, resulting in its use of subtlety, suggestion and shadow. Lewton, inspired by French fashion sketches depicting female models with the heads of cats, made the most of his meager budget.
Unable to afford flashy special effects and grotesque makeup, Lewton and Tourneur kept the evil hidden as Irena succumbs to her feline ferocity over a perceived rival for her husband’s affections.
Shot in only 18 days, Cat People‘s stylish and seductive take on horror revolutionized the genre, winning over both audiences and critics, while earning over $4 million worldwide. But for all its tricks and treats, Cat People is still not quite as creepy as this:
This bitch will claw your eyes out.